CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia senators agreed Monday to let people carry concealed guns without permits, background checks or safety training.
The bill (HB 4145) passed the Senate Monday on a 24-9 vote. Opponents of the measure cited near-unanimous opposition from law enforcement agencies. Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, said, “We’re setting into play a situation where we could have blood on our hands.”
Proponents, however, said encouraging an armed citizenry will make the state safer.
“One thing is certain: Where there are gun-free zones, there is more gun violence,” said Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.
Likewise, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R-Morgan, cited a number of mass shootings, including an Uber driver who shot and killed six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, this past weekend.
“It’s hard to know whether or not an armed citizen would have been able to prevent some of that loss of life,” said Trump, who described the legislation as an expansion of the right to bear arms.
However, Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, noted that law enforcement officers have strongly opposed unlicensed concealed carry this session and last year.
“They still, almost uniformly, oppose this bill because of public-safety concerns,” he said, adding, “I’m going to stand here today and stand with law enforcement …